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    Service members save Afghan lives with blood drive

    Service Members Save Afghan Lives With Blood Drive

    Photo By Sgt. Walter D. Marino II | Wounded Afghan civilians are brought to Camp Dwyer, Helmand province, Afghanistan, to...... read more read more

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — When five injured Afghans needed medical attention, Marines and sailors from 1st Medical Battalion, Regimental Combat 7, came to their rescue.

    While surgeons operated on one critically wounded Afghan, an increasing amount of blood platelets was needed. As more and more blood was used, resources began to dwindle.

    Luckily, 1st Medical Battalion had a plan.

    "Yesterday we had several patients. But one individual needed 12 pints of blood. I talked with a surgeon, and clinical decision was made to initiate the walking blood drive," said Cmdr. Steven M. Blackwell, an anesthesiologist for 1st Medical Bn.

    Phone calls were made to different units throughout Camp Dwyer asking for any available Marines and sailors willing to donate blood. The response was immediate, as Marines and sailors lined up.

    "After a few calls to a few different units on base, there was a line of Marines going out the door to donate blood," said Petty Officer 1st Class Sandra L. Bridges, the center of command leading petty officer for 1st Medical Bn.

    The fact that the injured were Afghans and not fellow service members did not play a factor for the Marines and sailors.

    "It goes to show how willing we are to come together for the good of the people and make sure this world is a better place," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Darell L. Jenkins, an X-ray technician for the battalion.

    Approximately 10 pints of blood was collected, but 1st Medical Bn. believes there is always room for improvement.

    "We're trying to push pre-screening, so that we can get the paper work done before the blood drive begins," said Petty Officer 2nd Class, Ernesto Santanaa, a lab technician for the battalion. "Doing that would speed up the process."

    "Pre-screening would chop off about thirty minutes," Blackwell said.

    Although speed is an important factor, the safety of their patients is placed as a top priority during the process. Service members are screened for the correct blood type, and diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis B, and syphilis.

    "One time we had a guy say, he was B-positive, but was actually B-negative. That's why we pre-screen," said Santanaa.

    Through the battalion's hard work, innocent lives were saved, and will continue to be saved. However, to do so, the medical staff needs its resources, and thus relies on the willingness of the service members to donate blood.

    "We need service members who belong to Camp Dwyer and predominately stay on base," said Blackwell, from Mobile, Ala. "We collect blood every Friday and Saturday."

    As the battalion works to increase their walking blood drive, the importance of their work was realized.

    "They don't have any medical infrastructure here. We're the only medical place around for them," said Blackwell. "Not too long ago, a child with tetanus was brought here. We don't see tetanus back in the United States because we all get vaccinated. We took care of that child. Hopefully his family was aware that we did that for him. I think we're not only here to save lives, but I think we're also here to make a positive impression on the people, and win the hearts and minds."



    Date Taken: 02.02.2010
    Date Posted: 02.02.2010 05:54
    Story ID: 44775

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